Brazil probes U.S. oil trader Freepoint in alleged bribery scheme
03 Jun 2021

Authorities in Brazil are investigating senior employees at Connecticut-based trading house Freepoint Commodities for their alleged role in a bribery scheme involving state-run oil company Petrobras, Reuters has learned.

Federal police here suspect Freepoint, through an intermediary, routed bribes to Petrobras employees for a roughly seven-year period ending in 2018. Reuters pieced together the purported kickback operation from three people close to the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, and hundreds of pages of previously unreported court documents filed by Brazilian investigators.

At least two high-ranking Freepoint employees, including Robert Peck, head of the company’s global oil business, are suspected to have participated in the purported scam, according to the sources and court documents reviewed by Reuters, which Brazilian police submitted last year to a federal judge overseeing the probe. Those documents include bank records, invoices, e-mails and WhatsApp messages exchanged between alleged co-conspirators, including Peck. In Brazil, judges routinely are involved in criminal cases from the early stages of an investigation to the sentencing phase.

The Brazilian investigation hasn’t been previously reported. No charges have been filed, and it remains unclear whether any will be. As part of the probe, authorities are investigating Freepoint itself, which could lead to potential fines or other civil penalties if the company is found to have engaged in wrongdoing.

In response to questions about the Brazil probe from Reuters, a Freepoint spokesperson said in an email the company “is strongly committed to following the laws everywhere we do business.” It declined further comment.

Freepoint declined requests to make Peck available for an interview. Peck did not respond to questions sent to him by Reuters via LinkedIn. A woman who answered the telephone at his home declined to comment.

By Sabrina Valle and Gram Slattery, Reuters, 3 June 2021

Read more at Reuters

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